A review by vaporization
Blessed Monsters by Emily A. Duncan


I get that Duncan was racist and that's kind of more important but also I wish more people would talk about the terrible quality of this last book.

I actually didn't mind the first two books in the series. They were extremely confusing, especially towards the end, but I thought it was just because I read them in one of those mind-numbing binges. Apparently other people thought they were confusing as well, so who knows. I don't mind books that are confusing as long as they make sense later. This series did not make sense later. It stayed confusing throughout. To me it seems as if this is the unfortunate result of Duncan really liking their writing.

There are three main characters: Nadya, Malachiasz, and Serefin. I could not bring myself to care about any of them. Nadya was just oddly boring. I felt as if I didn't know her at all. She didn't have a very strong personality. That's not to say characters need to have strong personalities, but there wasn't really anything that made her stand out from the background characters other than the fact that she got more page time. But, perhaps that was because I just didn't read carefully enough. Malachiasz is the typical edgy bad boy, and every time he was on the page I just wanted to roll my eyes out of my head. We get it. He's edgy. I am extremely tired of bad boys, and I haven't even read that many. Serefin at least has some humor, and he was probably one of the best. As for the other characters, they all felt like props. They were only there to service the main trio. They didn't really have motivations of their own. Parijahan and Rashid were a bit more interesting, but they were so scarcely there that when I did get to learn more about them, I just didn't care enough about them to be invested.

All of the characters major died at some point and then lived again. She kept trying to make it seem like their deaths were significant, but they weren't. They just weren't. Death meant nothing. I hated that. It meant nothing. Nothing had consequences, not even Nadya getting rid of magic in Tranavia in the second book. She got rid of magic in an entire nation. But we only see how that affects the few Tranavian characters we focus on: Serefin, Malachiasz, Kacper, and Ostiya, and even just with them we get very little on how they're affected by it. It feels as if they know it's happened and they know they should be upset, but none of them really are.

I can get behind Serefin and Kacper more than Nadya and Malachiasz, because at least Serefin and Kacper weren't stabbing each other in the back all the time. I don't really like how they got together, though. Kacper was basically invisible in the first book. And then in the second book Serefin was suddenly just thinking about him all the time despite in the first book not even hinting at him being the slightest bit bisexual. (Not even Kacper had any idea, and he was literally one of Serefin's closest friends.) It honestly felt a bit lazy. I did like that they mentioned the power imbalance because I think that is often overlooked in other books, but I wish it had been brought up earlier so that there was more time to see what that actually meant for their relationship.

Nadya and Malachiasz are awful because they spend fifty pages hating each other and then another fifty pages loving each other and over and over again. Honestly have no idea why they fell in love in the first place. I could not care less about them, and I never felt the drama. I knew they were going to be together in the end. That's the problem with reading these sort of YA fantasy/romance books. Every time you pick up one of these books, you already know from the blurb who the love interest is, and they're pretty much guaranteed to be together (unless there's a love triangle or other shape that's actually done well). For some books it works well, but for books where the characters aren't as fleshed out, already knowing how their relationship will turn out just kills any possible tension. Duncan doesn't give their relationship any more depth than Serefin and Kacper. It's the Bad Boy Falls in Love with Good Girl and Good Girl Makes Bad Boy Good trope, perfectly fitted to a T. This series brings nothing new to the table. And I despise this trope. It's so annoying.

Nadya isn't even the main character in her own story. When I first picked up this series I assumed Nadya would be the "main" main character of the trio, like the Harry Potter of the Golden Trio, since the plot seemed to progress the most in her chapters, at least for the first book; Serefin wasn't even that important until the latter half of the first book. But by the second book, nothing was about Nadya anymore. It was just about Malachiasz, and a little bit about Serefin, but mostly Malachiasz. And I hate that it was all about Malachiasz because I hated him the most. He's so boring and one-note. Duncan keeps saying that Malachiasz is horrible and irredeemable, so why is he redeemed at the end? Why? Why are we supposed to feel bad for him? He doesn't change at all. He's the exact same at the end; he even gets to go back to the Vultures, so why is Duncan trying to portray him in another light? Are we supposed to care just because Nadya loves him? It's a really horrible relationship, honestly. I honestly can't really describe the extent to which I hate Malachiasz. I just despise the mindset of "cruel world, cruel people," where cruelty is justified because it's expected of a cruel world. Malachiasz exemplifies that, and I hate it.

I wish the characters would have died and stayed dead. Then at least something interesting would have happened.